Heliofungia corals can reproduce sexually or asexually. During sexual reproduction, eggs and sperm are released into the water, where the fertilized egg develops into larvae. Within a fortnight, the larvae will settle on to hard substrate. Asexually reproduced young coral, or acanthocauli, can develop from partly buried, damaged or dying parent tissue. Either way, the result is a vase-shaped polyp that gradually grows into a flattened disc, attached to the substrate via a stalk. The stalk of the 'mushroom' eventually dissolves, and the coral becomes mobile. The newly mobile coral rests on the bottom where it will mature and reproduce (2) (3). Heliofungia have microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) living within their tissues. Through photosynthesis, these symbiotic algae produce energy-rich molecules that the coral polyps can use as nutrition. In addition, the large polyps can use their long tentacles to capture prey (4)
No one has provided updates yet.